Subject: Jakarta sends troops to defend aid workers in W. Timor

Sydney Morning Herald Monday, August 28, 2000

Troops sent to defend aid workers

Jakarta: Indonesia's military command has sent a brigade of troops to defend aid workers helping East Timorese refugees in West Timor, the state Antara news agency announced.

"I have sent the mobile brigade to Atambua so that it could be deployed to the border any time," the commander of Kostrad [Strategic Command] 502 Battalion, Major Harto Karyawan, was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Major Karyawan was speaking in the border town of Atambua, where attacks by former East Timorese militia have forced the United Nations to halt operations and evacuate most of its staff.

The militia last week attacked a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mission handing out aid to East Timorese refugees south of Atambua with machetes and stones, beating three of them badly.

"We have reached an agreement with the former East Timorese militias not to cause any incident," Major Karyawan said.

The UNHCR said last week that the way Indonesia was allowing the militia to act with impunity was "making a mockery of statements by responsible officials in Jakarta guaranteeing security for aid workers and refugees".

Last month, the UNHCR had to cancel plans to take a census of the estimated 120,000 East Timorese in West Timor because of violence and intimidation by the pro-Jakarta militia.

In East Timor's south-western border area of Suai UN peacekeepers yesterday detained three pro-Jakarta militia seeking to be resettled.

"They appear to be low-level militia and unconnected to serious crimes at this stage," a UN spokesman, Captain Dan Hurren, said. "They have been very helpful during questioning and pending ... interrogation they will be resettled."

The militia were unarmed, and were former members of the Laksaur group based around Suai.

"They came across the border knowing they would be picked up. We welcome that," Captain Hurren said.

In Jakarta, the Attorney-General, Mr Marzuki Darusman, promised senior officials would be among those named as suspects over last year's campaign of terror in East Timor after it voted for independence.

He said the names would be announced this week but declined to say whether they would include the then military chief, General Wiranto.

'There will be 30 people [named] ... there are high-ranking officials," Mr Darusman said after the new Cabinet was sworn in at the weekend.

Much of the violence was by pro-Jakarta gangs but they were openly supported by the Indonesian military, and many believe that senior officials orchestrated the attacks.

Pro-Jakarta militias said they planned a peaceful rally in the West Timor capital of Kupang on Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of East Timor's separation from Indonesia.

They also planned to go on hunger strike for six days starting on Wednesday in protest at the territory's independence.

Jakarta knows it faces the threat of an international war crimes tribunal if it is does not punish those behind the destruction.

The list of suspects had been due to be announced last week, but was delayed for legal checks, Mr Darusman said.

Agence France-Presse


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